Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
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Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on July 9, 2018.

CAMDEN, N.J. -- A Pennsylvania family said their father is fighting for his life and his limbs.

They said he contracted a flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey.

Dilena Perez-Dilan said her father Angel Perez is an avid crabber.

But on July 2, he was crabbing at Matt's Landing.

Hours later his right leg began to swell. Then she said it quickly got worse.

"It turned brown, blackish color," she recalled. "It was swelling, it was blistered."

Photos taken by the family show the discoloration and swelling. He is now in the ICU at Cooper, the infection spread to all four limbs.

Dilena said doctors blame a bacteria called Vibrio. It's in a group commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.

Vibrio is found in brackish and seawater, especially during the hot summer months.

The family is now warning others to be mindful.

"Be careful," said Dilena. "The water, as much as we need water, it can be poisonous. It can be dangerous and we don't know what we're getting into when we get in there. That's why they do use boots - people use boots and covers to protect themselves."

Perez has Parkinson's disease, so he is at a greater risk for problems.

But the New Jersey health department says if anyone has open cuts or scrapes, it's best to stay out of the brackish water.

Anyone with liver disease or a weakened immune system should also avoid eating raw shellfish because the bacteria can also be spread through food.

The infection is rare but New Jersey does report several cases of it each year.

The Perez family is hoping for the best, but right now living day-by-day. They do say that Perez is in good spirits.